Standardized testing: biggest fault in American education system


Photo courtesy Hope Safai

Junior Hope Safai completes practice problems in her ACT review book to prepare for her upcoming test.

Standardized tests have been used to measure intelligence for a long time, with tests like the SAT dating back all the way to 1926. However, standardized testing is a flawed way of measuring intelligence as there are blatant flaws in the neutrality of these types of tests. In addition, students who do poorly on standardized tests can face external forces of pressure in addition to the pressure that comes with being a high school student. 

It is a common idea that standardized tests are an effective and fair way to measure intelligence since all the tests are the same, making them objective. And while yes, the tests are all the same, the students who are taking them are not and the conditions that these students take the tests in are certainly different from one another. 

Some students come from wealthy families, who can afford to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars to have their child(ren) tutored in order to prepare for tests like the SAT or ACT, which, pre-Covid, was required by most colleges to be taken and have a score submittedDuring the Covid pandemic, 1400 schools made standardized tests optional for all applicants, meaning they did not have to submit an ACT or SAT score with their application. Even today, 75% of the almost 1,800 colleges and universities in America remain test optional. Schools are beginning to care less about test scores because they are not an accurate measure of intelligence and certainly don’t tell these colleges anything about the student who is applying there. And if colleges are not requiring students to take the SAT or ACT, there is no reason for students to be taking them at all.

The way standardized tests are used is also flawed because comparing a student’s score to a national average does not paint a full picture of what the student knows. Alongside this, one test taken on one random day during the school year provides no sample size of what the student actually knows. This means if a student is having a bad day then it could ruin their test score, but they cannot do anything about it except take the test again on a random date which will realistically be months in the future.

Students also have to deal with the stress of regular school coinciding with the stress that is put on them leading up to and even after they take a standardized test. This build up of stress could make them do worse on the tests or even in school. The added stress just isn’t healthy for students especially when the tests they are stressing about is not a completely accurate representation of their knowledge and intelligence.

Standardized tests are not accurate in depicting a student’s intelligence, and since fewer colleges are requiring the students to take them, it is completely useless to make students take a test that is inaccurate and creates unnecessary stress in their lives.